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The Only Easy Day

Rick Wilson warns: "Now, in the dawning of 2024, it’s time to wake up and get very serious."
Published:January 4, 2024
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By Rick Wilson

The famous rule of BUD/S, the grueling U.S. Navy SEAL team selection course is that the only easy day was yesterday.

As America grumpily returns to work today — and I am the happy exception on the grumpy front after a week off with family to charge my mental and spiritual batteries — the election ahead is about to become very, very real to millions of people.

Why?

Because for the couple years, most Americans — all of us political obsessives excepted — had the luxury of not worrying about the minutiae of Trump’s legal battles, the feckless and pointless GOP primary, or the future of the nation. That’s the ultimate luxury of functioning democracies; people aren’t forced into a constant state of tense fight or flight anxiety.


Americans felt that way during Trump’s blighted term in office at first because of the eccentricity cruelty and caprice. He darkened the sun with his endless, constant, hideous presence. He was the unavoidable trainwreck, the endless vacuum of attention and coverage. When COVID hit, it was the murderous incompetence of a botched pandemic that left Americans on edge. Barely a beat after defeating Trump came the January 6th terrorist attack on the Capitol.

The sheer normalcy of Joe Biden’s Presidency — bills passed or failed, high-stakes but ordinary diplomacy and international relations, the nuts-and-bolts White House operation that just does what Administrations do instead of being a constant and flamboyant fecal rodeo — is at one level just why Americans were asleep to the hard journey ahead for the last year or so.

In 2021, Biden’s team managed COVID and the economy like professionals. In 2022, they rose to the challenge of framing the election as a race to protect democracy, against their instincts, but properly and passionately.

This last year was a long stretch of good governance. Scandals are few and far between — and generally created out of whole cloth by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda over at Fox — and to be perfectly honest, the Washington press corps is bored by this White House.

Good White House cultures leak on purpose, and rarely. Trump’s White House leaked like the Titanic. All the White House drama under Trump is less pressing, present, and lurid under Biden. As horrifying as they know Trump is, those clicks and eyeballs are drawing them into the spectacle coverage…again.

That luxurious boredom may also explain the lack of heat and passion among Democrats for the Oldest President Ever. We get it. The Old Man just does the work, instead of evoking those passionate, swooning moments Barack and Bill could deliver with such ease. He’s not dramatic or transformational or sexy.

Americans wanted to end the drama of Trump in 2020. Then they seemed to take a long nap.

Now, in the dawning of 2024, it’s time to wake up and get very serious.

The perplexing value of spectacle and dopamine hits in the national political psyche have primed America for a return engagement with a wild differential between the side of good — bored, vaguely dissatisfied, and a bit spoiled — and evil. The bad guys never left the opium dream of Trump’s alternate reality.

They’re more passionate and driven to achieve their revanchist rematch. As we’ve talked about on this Substack for months now, they’re telling us exactly what they’ll do in the campaign and if Trump is re-elected. That sound you hear is the alarm clock on your iPhone, pinging and insistent. Wake up.

The holidays are over, the GOP primary is ending before our very eyes — Nikki’s bubble burst last week — and the fight is coming up on us faster than you can imagine.

I wrote in “Ten Rules for 2024” some of my suggestions for how to approach this coming battle.

Because in the 2024 campaign, the only easy day was yesterday.

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